July 12, 2024


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Interview with Reza Askari: Roar – Emotion and soul comes first: Video, new CD cover, Photos

Jazz interview with jazz contrabassist Reza Askari. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Reza Askari: – I grew up in a mid-sized town called Fulda, basically in the middle of Germany. I mostly got into music because of my parents who were constantly listening to music at home. My mother took me to my first concert (The Pasadena Roof Orchestra) at the age of six during a summer vacation in Austria. I already played the piano at this age. I started realizing that music was my passion pretty early and decided to make a living from it at the end of my time at high school.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

RA: – Regarding sound on bass I was immediately influenced by Jaco Pastorius when I startet playing Fender Bass at the age of eleven. Over the years and especially when I began to move to upright bass, I have always been attracted to more traditional and olden types of sound characteristics. This is why I play gut strings basically my entire time as a professional.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

RA: – I try to keep up my practice routine as good as I can, although it’s sometimes very hard to do so because of a full calendar. I regularly find myself practicing classical music on upright bass, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Dragonetti or Bottesini. I try to focus on sound and intonation while going through this kind of routin, while harmony I often find in listening, analyzing and playing Jazz Standards from the Great American Song Book on bass or piano. To improve my rhythmical skills, I often use apps on my iPad, where I develop my own timing or rhythm exercises.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

RA: – Personally I would say I’ve changed a lot during the past ten/fifteen years. (If that is Your question). I’d say I get more and more open minded the further I go in my musical career and the more different styles of music I get in touch with.

JBN: – How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

RA: – Before a recording I try to focus on the music that’s been recorded. I try to figure out the main topic of each tune. I try to work out the essence of each composition and try to find a way to make the tunes sound good and that my playing serves the music, the tunes and the whole recording itself. The same I can say about preparing my performances. To maintain my spiritual and musical stamina, I try to find a good balance between working and practicing, meditating, eating good food, sports and hanging around with friends and musicians.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: Reza Askari – ROAR, how it was formed andwhat you are working on today.

RA: – The thing I love most about my new album is how it turned out to be. The sound of the band, the interaction and the way my fellow musicians interpreted my compositions.

New CD – 2022 – Buy from here

JBN: – How did you select the musicians who play on the album?

RA: – Obviously I selected Stefan and Fabian because we are a long time working trio and have a deep understanding of one another’s musical habitats. When I listened to Christopher Dell´s trio DRA for the first time around 15 years ago I knew right away that I would invite him at a certain point to join my trio.

JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

RA: – In my opinion, intellect is a tool to serve the soul in the music. Emotion and soul comes first.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

RA: – No, I do not see my relationship to my audience in that way. My music is not to satisfy the listener´s emotion or expectation but including the audience in my process of searching the right notes for the right moment. This common experience of being in the moment together with the audience is what I am presenting my music for.

JBN: – Can you share any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions over the years?

RA: – Yes I can. I have way too many good and even some not so nice experiences to list them all up in this interview here. But I can say that my probably deepest and most touching experience on stage was performing with saxophone legend Lee Konitz.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

RA: – I wouldn’t say I have to get young people into old music, because when music is great, it becomes eternally good. Most of the old Jazz standards do have this quality in my opinion and so the automatically get young people into jazz and improvised music (as long as they are nicely performed haha).

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

RA: – To me, music is the essence of what is happening around me. The people that surround and interact with me, the food I am eating, the good and sad things I experience in my life. Music is the distillation of all the things that happen and have happened in my life so far.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

RA: – I would try to get rid of music that comes from a place of commercial and financial interests. Music has to come from the heart and soul in my opinion.

JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

RA: – These days I like listening to some great recordings of people that surround me (for ex. Christian Lillinger, Philipp Gropper, Leif Berger and Felix Hauptmann) and Pierre Boulez, The Melvins, Car Bomb and always good old Johann Sebastian Bach.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

RA: – I think the main message in my music is empathy, love, respect and something that holds against all that crazy stuff happening in the world right now.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

RA: – Definitely to the 60ties to be able to listen live to Hendrix, The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Miles and Trane, later to listen live to Jaco and Weather Report and even later Nirvana.

JBN: – Do You like our questions?So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

RA: – I really dig Your questions, I am interested in what You are hearing in my music and how You got into music and working in professional music journalism.

JBN: – I am a musicologist, jazz scholar, jazz critic, I graduated from Berklee College of Music. I have been in the jazz field since 2001, I organize jazz festivals in some Eastern European countries.

JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career?At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?

RA: – Yes I gave many of them, but now these days are kind of over I guess. Regarding Your interview… – very hard to say for me- maybe I expect the interview giving back my words just like I said 😉

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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